There is no shortage of advice out there, and much of it comes at you unsolicited. Obviously you can't control the people sending advice your way, but you can take responsibility for the advice you are giving. If you take a moment to consider all the people upon which you force your opinions in a given day, you may find you are wasting a lot of time and energy mostly in an effort to satisfy your own ego.

If you want your advice to be treated with respect and importance, you need to give it careful consideration before it leaves your mouth. Here are some insights from my Inc. colleagues and me who conveniently are professional advice givers.

1. Start with empathy.

Many people selfishly give advice starting with their own perspective. The point of advice should be to help the person receiving it. When you hear people expressing a problem, ask first if they want your opinion or if they just want to vent. Then use additional questions to understand their pain and boundaries. Only then are you ready to share relative experience and perspective that may truly be helpful and well received.

2. Wait for the pain.

It's great to make good things better, but what we respond to best is advice that helps us eliminate a problem or source of pain. Of course for you to know the right moment to help me means you have to actually know me... but that's okay, because we're always more open to advice from people who know us--and care about us. So start by showing people you care; then, when the moment is right to offer advice, they'll be much more likely to take that advice to heart. --Owner's Manual

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3. Qualify your experience.

I am very careful to only give advice when I feel that I have enough experience to do so. When that's the case, I go all in. However, if I have little or no experience in whatever issue it is that's being discussed, I let the other person know that right away. In those cases, I'm happy to talk someone through a problem to help them find the right solutions, but I won't personally offer advice at all. --The Management Guy

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4. Don't just tell them what to do.

I find that advice is most effective when the recipient is a part of the solution. When someone brings a problem to you, or asks you to be a part of their decision-making process, let them talk it through first. If they don't come to a conclusion on their own ask a few questions to inspire them to dig deeper. For example:

Them: "Should I hire this marketing agency?"

You: "What benefits and possible pitfalls do you see?"

As the process continues it creates the perfect, empowering balance: their answers topped off with your expertise. If you usually dish out advice freely, only to be disappointed by the end result, give it this spin and watch for a more powerful outcome. --The Successful Soloist

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5. Timing is everything.

Try to wait until someone's asked for advice before you give it. You can signal your willingness to do so by saying something like, "I faced a similar challenge once. Let me know if you'd ever like to talk about it." Also, try to provide advice when the person can most use it. For instance, if someone's completed a task that should have been done differently, wait until he or she is about to start that task again to explain how it could be done better. --The Laid Back Leader

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6. Avoid giving "free" advice.

When giving advice, make sure the person receiving the advice has skin in the game. For example, a friend of mine advises others on how they should construct their resume. She has found that if she makes changes to the resume for the person, they are less likely to accept or embrace her ideas. Instead, she talks them through her suggestions and has the individual make the changes on their own. The advice is the same, but the approach impacts the outcome. If you are asked to give advice, make sure the other person has a vested interest--in terms of money, time or commitment to the outcome--to make sure your advice is taken seriously. --Lean Forward

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Published on: Feb 6, 2015
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